I went to China because we used to get The Far East magazine (the magazine of Columban missionaries published in Ireland). I was the eldest of six children: four girls and then two boys. We grew up between Roscommon and Castlerea in Ireland. I read about China in the magazine and decided this is where I would like to end up. I wrote to the Columban Sisters, and I was invited to meet the person in charge of vocations in Dublin when I was seventeen.
I clearly remember the first time I visited Julie Santiago. To reach her house, I had to pass by several narrow lanes in the area where I lived. It was daytime, but it was quite dark inside her house because they didn't have lights. There was a small table at the corner with plates and kitchenware on it. In the dark room, Julie smiled brightly because she had me as her visitor from Korea. Her three daughters were playing beside her. They were lovely.
As part of my process of priestly formation, in 2015 I was assigned to Taiwan to perform my First Missionary Assignment (FMA). In Taiwan, after ten months of studying Chinese Mandarin (Taiwan's offi cial language), I was assigned to the Holy Martyrs Sanctuary parish in Banqiao, near Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. The priest in charge of the parish was Fr. Willy Ollevier, a Belgian priest of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM).
Since 2014, St. Joseph's Parish in Ballymun, Ireland, started to look at ways to respond to the needs of young people in the parish. Parents asked if there was a program that could help them nourish the spiritual aspect of the lives of their teenage sons and daughters. It was through that inquiry that Lifeteen came to be.
The blind beggar heard the crowd passing him on the road. Feet hurrying, people talking, all moving quickly along. What was going on? "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." It was enough. Immediately the beggar shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!" He was making a nuisance of himself. Shut up, they warned him. But this was not a man to be silenced. He had heard of the Nazarene. He knew, beyond a shadow of doubt that he would help him.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War with all of it inhumanity. However, in spite of this Declaration, a lack of respect for the rights of all people as human beings is evident in so many places around the world.
I once knew a priest who was the life of the party but prone to take over any party he attended. Most people enjoyed his company, but he was also said by many to "have a great welcome for himself."